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The Wonder of Easter

Easter Festival

The Wonder of Easter

Text: Luke 24:1-12

I wonder.  I wonder if you have ever seen anything so amazing before.  It would have taken a forklift to pick my jaw back off the ground.  I was so filled with wonder and awe that I didn’t know what to say.  I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t know where to go.  I just stood there, filled with wonder.

                  Have you had that feeling before?  Maybe you stood at the rim of the Grand Canyon looking at the bottom a mile and a half below and at the other edge 15 miles away.  Wow!  Maybe you stood at the foot of the Rocky Mountains looking at a peak 14,000 feet above you.  Wow!  Maybe you get that feeling every time you stand on the beach and watch the mighty waves come crashing down on your feet.  Wow!  Maybe it was watching the miracle of childbirth.  Wow!  I’m sure that at some point in your life you have been filled with jaw-dropping wonder and amazement.

                  Yet I’m not sure you could comprehend the wonder I saw.  In fact, when I was first told about it I didn’t even believe it.  It sounded too good to be true.  Some friends told me that they had seen it with their own eyes.  That still didn’t convince me it was possible.  After all, it was a group of ladies that told me what they had seen.  And you know how women can be.  Once they start talking, then they start getting excited, then they start exaggerating a little bit.  My ears heard what they were saying, but my mind didn’t understand it and my heart didn’t believe it.  I had to see it with my own eyes. Read the rest of this entry

Victory!

Easter Sunrise

Victory!

Text: 1 Corinthians 15:51-57

One week ago the Panthers of Northern Iowa University were poised to storm the court in joy over their second upset win of the basketball tournament.  This was going to be an even bigger upset as they were about to beat the much higher ranked Aggies of Texas A&M.  But in a historic comeback for the ages, Texas A&M erased a ten point deficit in the last 30 seconds of the game, tied the game, and then went on to a stunning victory in the second overtime.  The Texas A&M team and fans went nuts over the unexpected victory.  The Northern Iowa team and fans had faces that were stunned, shocked, and streaming with tears.

This is why many refer to this college basketball tournament as March Madness.  You never know what might happen.  Even if you don’t like sports, you have to appreciate a team of college kids pouring their hearts out in competition.  Those who taste defeat are crushed and heartbroken.  Those who taste victory are overcome with joy.

Could you ever imagine though, a team that didn’t understand or appreciate their victory?  What if the Texas A&M fans were dead silent and didn’t cheer at all at the end of the game thinking, “What’s the big deal?  Why is our team so excited?”  What if Peyton Manning in his swan song Super Bowl victory had no pep in his step, no pump of his fist, not even a smile on his face?  What if an Olympian at the coming summer games in Rio won andevent or race but just walked away without standing atop the podium and receiving the gold medal?  What if the news media didn’t think the Olympics were a big deal and didn’t report the winners?  What if we Americans completely ignored what those athletes will accomplish on our behalf at the Olympics?  That would all be crazy, wouldn’t it?  That would never happen. Read the rest of this entry

We Have Hope

Saints Triumphant Sunday

We Have Hope

Text: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

It was a long day.  A usual day, but a long day.  Get the kids up.  Get the backpacks packed.  Rush out the door.  Meetings, meetings, meetings.  A pile of work that somehow was growing and not shrinking.  More meetings.  A massive headache.  Screaming down the highway, rushing to pick the kids up from school on time.  Getting home past dark.  Whipping up something for dinner.  It was a long day, but a normal day.  Until the phone rang.

“Is this Sheila Johnson?  Ms. Johnson it’s your husband.  There’s been an accident.  You need to come to the hospital immediately.”  Sheila nearly dropped the phone as she dropped her dinner plate.  She left the pool on the floor of spaghetti sauce mixed with fresh tears as she grabbed the kids and rushed out the door.  Whatever the speed limits were, she wasn’t following.  She drove almost as fast as her heart was beating.  Her family had never really prayed before.  They didn’t care too much about God because they didn’t really have time for God.  But to whatever god was out there, she was fervently and feverishly praying.  “Oh, Lord, please.  Please no,” she kept repeating.

Sheila burst into the ER.  She left the kids in the waiting room as the doctors pulled her into a private room.  “I’m sorry Ms. Johnson.  You’re too late.  There’s nothing we could do.  Your husband has passed.”  The room erupted with an inhuman roar.  And as quickly as the wild wailing began, Sheila was passed out on the floor.   Read the rest of this entry

Don’t Be Afraid. Just Believe.

6th Sunday after Pentecost 

Don’t Be Afraid.  Just Believe.

Text: Mark 5:21-24, 35-43

Have you been there before?  Have you been there with Jairus?  On your knees.  Begging.  Pleading.  “Please Jesus.  Please.  Help.”  You know there is absolutely nothing you can do and it is completely out of your control.  You know there is one and only one who can help.  So you beg and earnestly plead with tears flowing and humility showing.  “Please Jesus.  Please.  Help.”

When that is you, side by side with Jairus in impassioned prayer, do you actually think Jesus will help?  Do you really think he is listening?  Do you really think he will do anything about it?  Do you really think he can solve the problem or fix your trouble or heal the disease?  Do you really think he can take away the cancer or save from death’s door?  Do you really think he even cares?  Do you believe these things?

Or do you pray because it’s your last ditch effort?  Nothing else is working so this is your last chance, your last try.  Maybe, just maybe, it will work and Jesus will help you. Read the rest of this entry

When You Know Who Jesus Is, You Share Who Jesus Is

3rd Sunday in Easter

When You Know Who Jesus Is, You Share Who Jesus Is

Text: Acts 4:8-12

I.

They certainly could have taken an easier way out.  Peter and John, that is.  They could have easily saved themselves a lot of trouble and trial had they done things differently.

The day before Peter and John were going up to the temple to pray and they ran across a man begging for money.  This man was over 40 years old and had been crippled from birth.  Peter told the man he didn’t have silver and gold but rather something even better for him.  Then in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth he told him to get up and walk—and he did!

Quickly it became a scene.  The man was walking and jumping around, whooping and hollering and praising God.  As you can imagine, this caused quite the commotion.  People started to come see what all the ruckus was about, especially when they realized this crippled man they saw begging every day was jumping around like a kindergartner set free for recess time.

As the bewildered people crowded around, Peter took advantage of the opportunity.  He asked them why they were astonished.  He told them that Jesus Christ, whom they crucified but whom God raised from the dead, was the one who has all power, including the power to heal that man.  Peter called the people to repent of their sins and to turn in faith to the powerful Son of God.  Hundreds, maybe thousands, came to faith that day. Read the rest of this entry